dark and deep web

A total breakdown of the deep web and dark web.

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

There are many explanations of the deep web and dark web, in many articles I read, it’s not quite clear what these things are specifically. Are they the same, opposite, or related?

All these questions and more will be answered by this article, you’ll understand what the dark web is and the differences or similarities between them.

What is the deep web?

To understand this, we have to go back to the origin of everything, that is the internet. The internet is the system of interconnected computer networks used to communicate with other devices or networks.

So when you’re browsing on your computer, you’re on the world wide web. The world wide web is not the same as the internet, the world wide web is part of the major services provided by the internet, so there are many other services.

So when you’re browsing websites or blogs, you’re communicating and accessing webpages hosted on the world wide web (WWW).

When browsing the world wide web, you’ll notice that there are sites that can be viewed without any form of registration or login, you can just go to the webpage, view the contents, and be on your way, examples of these include mostly blogs and any website that doesn’t require you to sign before you view the content. This is what you call the Surface Web.

dark web and deep web

The surface web includes all sites that are indexed or recorded by search engines such as Google, firefox. Surface web websites are websites that are indexed or recorded by regular search engines, they can be accessed without a username or password.

In the image above the surface Web is the green part of the worldwide web left after removing the deep web.

Deep web is exactly the opposite of the surface web.

The deep web is part of the world web that is not indexed by search engines and you require a login to access the contents of the webpage. The deep is also referred to as the hidden web or invisible web.

You cannot view the contents of the deep web without a login, examples of deep web sites include your online banking website, school website, and email. You can access deep websites by using the website URL or IP address.

What about Facebook or Instagram, I can access it but I also require a login, Is it the deep web or Surface web?

It’s not confusing, let me explain. When you open Facebook and view profiles or watch videos without logging in, you’re on a public page hence the surface web.

However, when you want to comment or add friends, you have to go past the public page and log in to the deep web part of the website. That is basically how it is for any website that has public pages and deep web pages together.

What is the Dark Web or Darknet?

The dark web is a part of the deep web that is intentionally hidden or obscured from search engines, you require special software like Tor to access the dark web.

The dark web is known as a place for illegal or criminal activities, this is because computers can communicate anonymously on the dark web, that is, a business can be conducted in complete secrecy on the dark web. That’s why thieves, hackers, killers, and other doers of all manner of illegal activities prefer to use the dark web.

The dark web is a smaller part of the deep web, as you can see in the images above. Though it’s known as a haven for criminals, there are some good uses for the dark web like whistle-blowing and military warfare.

dark web

Due to the anonymous nature of the dark web, whistleblowers can safely blow the whistle without worrying about their safety or revealing their identity while the military use it to relay private and encrypted messages.

People commonly use the term “dark web and “deep web” interchangeably, however they are not the same thing. The dark web is a small section or portion of the deep web that is popular for illegal or nefarious activities. It’s not the same thing.

What can you find on the deep web?

You’ve probably accessed the deep web today. If you logged into your social media account or your email or your online banking, you have accessed the deep web.

So the things you can find are things you probably encounter on daily basis such as

  1. Social media Messages
  1. Email Messages
  1. Online Health Records
  1. Ecommerce Order History
  1. Electronic bank Statements.
  1. Online Banking
  1. Fortnite or PubG
  1. Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Amazon Prime
  1. And more

The reason why these pages are not indexed is that the content of the page is private and sensitive, imagine if anyone could just go online and view your private messages or access your online banking account. So search engines do not index these pages.

What can you find on the dark web?

The dark web is more tricky to access, you’ll require special software like Tor, we will talk more about this later in this article. Things or services you can find on the dark web include:

  1. Dark Web Marketplaces (Amazon for illegal items like weed, cocaine, LSD)
  1. Botnets
  1. Hackers
  1. Social Media (Facebook has an onion version of their website)
  1. Guns
  1. Stolen Credit Cards
  1. Stolen Identities
  1. illegal Porn (Child Porn)
  1. Terrorists
  1. Journalists

Cryptocurrency is the currency of the dark web, this is because of its anonymous nature. Bitcoin and Monero are the major currencies of the dark web.

How to access the Deep Web?

You can access the deep web using regular search engines like

  • Google
  • Bing
  • Yahoo
  • Baidu
  • AOL
  • Ask.com
  • DuckDuckGo
  • Yandex
  • More

How to access the Dark Web?

You need special software to access the dark web, the software you can use are :

Tor browser: The Tor browser is arguably the quickest way to access the dark web. The Tor browser is considered safe to access the dark web because uses an onion router to transfer information across the dark web.

See image 3.1 to see how an onion router works. To use the Tor browser, simply download it from their official website here and install it.

how dark web onion router works
Image Credit: Wikipedia 3.1

Then you run it like your regular browser and you can access the dark web. For a more detailed explanation of how to install and run the tor browser, click here.

Differences between the deep web and dark web

Deep WebDark Web
The deep web is part of the world wide web (WWW) that is indexed or recorded by search engines.The dark web is a small part of the deep web that is exists on the world wide web. It can accessed through specific software such as Tor browser.
Consists of any page on the world wide web that requires a login to view the contentsConsists of friend-to-friend networks, peer-to-peer networks and larger networks like Tor
Can be accessed with regular search engines like google, bing, duckduckgoCan be assessed using special software like Tor browser
Accessing the deep web is legalAccessing the dark web is legal if you don’t visit any illegal or dangerous content like child porn.
The deep web is over 20X larger than the dark webThe dark web is a small area of the deep web known as the den of illegal activities. Some areas of the dark web are legal to access.
You can use online, cards, cryptocurrency, PayPal etc to make payments on the deep webThe major currency of the dark web is cryptocurrency like bitcoin and monero because the anonymity it provides.
The deep web is estimated to be 95% of the total world wide web. While the surface web is a mere 5%The dark web is small potion of the deep web, estimated to be about 7% of the deep web.

Important Deep and Dark Web Terms Mentioned in this article

  1. Onion routing: This is the security measure used by Tor to encrypt and secure your network connection by passing your request in three layers of encryption and sending it through three nodes before it finally reaches it destination.
how dark web routing works
  1. Friend-To-Friend Networks: A friend-to-friend network is a type of peer-to-peer network in which users only make direct connections with people they know. This means you only connect with your friends, it is safe because you know everyone in the network.
  1. Peer-To-Peer Networks: A peer-to-peer network (P2P) network is when a group of computers (peers) share network resources, such as processing power, disk storage or network bandwidth, with other network users. That means, the network load is distributed among the users of that network equally. Each computer computer connected to the network has equal privileges and access. Also a peer can receive and share network resources. Read more about peer-to-peer networks here


The deep web and dark web can be totally safe and legal to visit if you don’t go looking for dangerous content or clicking random links. Consider using a VPN is you want to access the dark web for extra security and anonymity.

Stay out of trouble, trouble is child porn, guns, drugs, hackers, weapons of mass destruction, counterfeits and the lot. If you find this article useful or informative please share to your social accounts and if you have something to say , drop a comment below. Thanks for reading!

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